The immune system is an efficient integrated network of cellular elements and chemicals developed to preserve the integrity of the organism against external insults and its correct functioning and balance are essential to avoid the occurrence of a great variety of disorders. To date, evidence from literature highlights an increase in immunological diseases and a great attention has been focused on the development of molecules able to modulate the immune response. There is an enormous global demand for new effective therapies and researchers are investigating new fields. One promising strategy is the use of herbal medicines as integrative, complementary and preventive therapy. The active components in medical plants have always been an important source of clinical therapeutics and the study of their molecular pharmacology is an enormous challenge since they offer a great chemical diversity with often multi-pharmacological activity. In this review, we mainly analysed the immunomodulatory/antinflammatory activity of Echinacea spp. and Curcuma longa, focusing on some issues of the phytochemical research and on new possible strategies to obtain novel agents to supplement the present therapies.
Keywords: Echinacea; curcumin; curcumin analogues; immune system; immunomodulators; signal transduction pathways.